Saturday, May 14, 2016
THE PULP CALENDAR: May 14
Hashknife Hartley and his sidekick Sleepy Stevens were two of the longest lived and most beloved western characters in pulp fiction, yet on this 1938 Argosy cover, apparently advertising one of W. C. Tuttle's stories about them, they're upstaged by a pretty girl. I sort of get this. It's one thing if Tuttle's doing one of his Henry Harrison Conroy stories; Henry is instantly recognizable as a misplaced W. C. Fields type, only more chubby, in the still-wild west. I don't know if Hashknife of Sleepy was as recognizable. I've seen several Hashknife covers (including the Dec. 15, 1934 Argosy) and the man looks fairly nondescript. Jumping from Adventure to Argosy to Short Stories, I don't know if readers would recognize all the covers as portraying the same man. Meanwhile, a girl with a gun is almost always a pulp winner, and for all I know such a girl actually figures in Tuttle's "Short Rope For Rustlers." As for the rest of the issue, C. S. Forester was Argosy's new star of 1938, the venerable weekly having introduced Horatio Hornblower to American readers earlier in the year. They wouldn't have him for long, as Forester was destined for the slicks, but along with three Hornblower serials Argosy ran the short story, "The Brand of Eve," which had premiered in England less than two months earlier. Max Brand and Borden Chase continue their serials, The Living Ghost and I'd Climb the Highest Mountain, as does Walter Ripperger (This Doll Must Die) while the usually dependable Frederick C. Painton throws in a short piece, "Old Gent With Whiskers." Ol' Hashknife may have been the main selling point, but there's something to be said for sex appeal, too.